Forget me not…unless

I haven’t posted in a long time. Haven’t had the motivation, or the inspiration, to write, and that’s OK. Life stuff goes on — work, house, garden. Repeat. Weeks go slow; weekends fly by. There’s never enough time to do what we need to do, let alone what we want to do.

We have, however, made some exciting (for us) progress in the last few months, including completing our 3-year sunroom project and redoing the last (worst) bedroom to turn it into an office for Mike and an occasional guestroom. They’re both great transformations and useful spaces — I’ll post pictures one of these days. Of course, lots of other projects are still ongoing, and it truly does get old. We marked 8 years in the house in May — 8 years at hard labor is a long time, and while I can see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still frustratingly small.

But this isn’t about that. What’s bothering me lately is my inability to focus on work the way I used to. I’ve made some mistakes the past few days on a particular project, and it’s just not like me. Catching inconsistencies, keeping track of a lot of details, grasping the problem and running with the solution — that’s pretty much what I do or, at least, what I’ve always done. So failing at that is both embarrassing and worrisome. I know I’m not enthused about work these days (is it retirement day yet?), but I should still be able to do the work.

Today it hit me that maybe I can blame the lack of concentration and general ennui on middle-age brain or collapsing hormones or, God forbid, the coming of “the change.”

As depressing at that thought is, at least it’s a temporary thing. A transition to get through, instead of the new normal. Your mind and body do eventually stabilize, right?

Or is this the beginning of the end, signalling that I’m losing my ability to do good work? That the last 25+ years was a good run, but it’s all downhill from here (and not in a good way — funny how “all downhill from here” can be positive or negative, depending on the context). That other people will now be gently correcting my mistakes, rather than the other way around. That the next 20 years of my work might just be a little shoddy.

Ouch. (Or as we say in the ’Burgh, “ahch.”)

I accepted it when my brain wasn’t as johnny-on-the-spot as it used to be. When I couldn’t answer the Jeopardy questions fast enough (or at all). When the right word didn’t leap onto the page, but had to be pulled from the depths after some painful mental gyrations or roundabout online searches. But this I don’t want to accept. Being good at my job has always been an essential part of who I am. I’m not ready for it to be who I was — not ready to say good-bye to me. 

Unless that lottery thing comes through, of course. Then it’s bye-bye Ms. Anal-Retentive-Writer-Editor-Proofreader and hello Ms. Woman-Who-Hires-People-To-Finish-Her-House. Maybe the key is just finding something else to be good at?


Take your work seriously, but never yourself.
~ Margot Fonteyn

A breath (and a wave of the towel)

I certainly can’t complain in this economy about having a busy workweek, but I’m happy to take a breath for a bit now, having just handed in an article and with another hard project I need to start straightaway. I’m not so good at back-to-back stress, hence the need for a breath, a workout, a shower, and maybe a trip to the post office to mail that pretty-but-not-pretty-enough cottage garden needlework I bought on eBay last year and just resold.

In between stressing about work, I’m savoring being a citizen of Steeler Nation this week and getting psyched watching things like these amazing kids (age 11 to 13!) or this bit of inspiration from the AFC Championship game. I wonder what the stadium will look like on Sunday — a repeat of Detroit with its sea of black and gold would be fantastic. (Am I the only one bummed the Steelers will be wearing their white jerseys?) I’m torn between watching (and listening to Bill and Tunch) from the comfort of my living room and trying to go to our local hangout bar down the street, as Mike suggested. Hmmm, if we stay home, I have to make the food (although Emeril’s jalapeño poppers I made for last week’s game were awesome!); if we go out…great bar food and endless beer. But, can I last for the 4 hours or so we’d have to hang out before the game starts to get a seat? Such decisions…

I hope you’re pondering equally weighty matters as the “wintry mix” continues to fall. Time to drag myself (kicking and screaming) to the dungeon cellar for my date with the devil NordicTrack, which just turned 15 this month. Imagine if I had actually been using it steady all these years…

Oh, and you know you’re in Steelers heaven when everybody’s favorite local eatery does this for the Super Bowl and has to post disclaimers like this!


What an enormous magnifier is tradition!
How a thing grows in the human memory and in
the human imagination, when love, worship, and all
that lies in the human heart is there to encourage it.

                                         ~ Thomas Carlyle

This and that

I love Wal-Mart. Not the ambiance. Not the colorful crowds. Not the endless walk from the “food side” to the “everything else” side. But the fact you can catch a cold and buy supplies to treat it all in one visit. I can’t be sure my first cold of the season came from my stop Tuesday evening, but…something tells me yes. It just felt like germs were everwhere — on the cart with a bare metal handle because the plastic covering was gone…emanating from the woman sneezing in Produce…on my hand and then on my face when I had that itch on my cheek I couldn’t ignore. I don’t shop much at Giant Eagle these days because Wal-Mart is closer and cheaper, but I do appreciate the giant tubs of antibacterial wipes GE makes available. (Of course, we’re probably only breeding super-bugs with our incessant spritzing and wiping and squirting.)

I’m very thankful you can still buy pseudoephedrine products behind the counter — even though it’s like lining up at the meth clinic to get your fix. Endless lines while everyone has to give name, address, phone number, consent, signature — just use the retinal scan already. We’ve learned to try to stock up on everything cold-relief-related when we’re well…the drugs, the special box of lotion tissue (I love this), chicken soup of all kinds — this time, though, no ginger ale. Damn. I’ll have to buy a six-pack and hide it from the pop-monster. (Because, it’s only November and you know there will be a next time.)

When did Cris Collinsworth become such a Steelers fan? Usually I can’t bear to listen to the national announcers, but I was too tired from my cold-and-drug-induced stupor to delap the cat, get off the couch, and walk 10 feet to turn on the radio. He was so complimentary it was kind of embarrassing — I’m sure the 20,000 or so Americans watching who aren’t Steelers fans were pretty tired of it. I surmised he is so disgusted with his old team he had to let them have it extra hard — a theory later confirmed by his comments at the end of the game of what HE’D do if he owned the team (first, rebuild it from the ground up with big guys). Well, now that they have 8 wins, Mike’s prediction of an 8-8 season can now come true…ha ha. Really, it was awfully nice to see the Steelers listed behind only the Titans on the leader board (but I’m not looking forward to that game in a few weeks. At least it’s not New England who’s undefeated again.)

Knock on wood, I’ve been busy with work again. After a very slow late summer and early fall, things are booming. Feast or famine, like always. I have noticed with my primary client. though, a stronger emphasis on budgets and hours allotted. How the heck do I know if I can write a 1500-word “point of view” on a topic I’ve never seen before (I scribbled down something about actuarial processes and IFRS) in 4-6 hours? How ’bout I let you know when I’m done? Yeah, it’s a tough economy, but I don’t want to be the “cheap fast one” (in love or in business).

Even so, I better make that callback for the call I dodged at 5:06 yesterday to find out more. Duty, like death, taxes, and bills, waits for no bug or no lazy writer. But if it could just wait ’til Monday when I feel better, that would be great.

A professional is someone who can do
his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.
                               ~ Alistair Cooke

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